If you are new to skiing or snowboarding all the different choices can be a bit baffling. This can be especially true for Yuzawa, which, measured by visitor numbers is probably the busiest ski region in the whole of Asia. There are a huge number of accommodation options of all different types, and lots of ski resorts too, either in the town or close by. So what should you be looking for if it is your first time on snow or you are just a beginner skier or snowboarder?
Almost all resorts have some kind of beginner area and learner slope. The quality varies enormously though. The first time lesson is really important and it is worth making it as easy on yourself as possible, even if it means spend the first day or half a day at a resort slightly further away.
Both beginner skiers and beginner snowboarders start out on a flat area to get used to their equipment, master the balance, and start moving around. From that point, they need to start sliding down a small slope. Beginner skiers generally need a very gentle slope, whereas snowboarders can progress to a slightly steeper one.
A magic carpet - We've mentioned magic carpet lifts before. These are like conveyor belts that you stand on which take you up to the top of a gentle slope. Without one of these you will be using up precious energy walking up the hill after each slide down. A resort with a magic carpet or surface lift will make your learning experience much more enjoyable.
Not too crowded - Needless to say, as a learner you might not feel completely in control at all times. Having a bit of space around you just in case, will definitely help you feel less nervous. Lots of resorts can get crazy busy at weekends and holidays - some worse than others. Resorts with narrow runs also make it much more difficult to find the space to practice. Ideally you are looking for a quiet resort with wide runs.
A good range of beginner slopes - Once you've mastered all the skills on the flat area, can control your speed and stop, and maybe make some small changes of direction, the next step is to ride the chairlift to the top of the beginner run. Skiers need a gentle run to start with to build up confidence while they improve their skills, and progress. Snowboarders will use a slightly steep slope. For both sports though, too steep and your risk denting your confidence and making the task of learning very difficult.
A nice rest area - Skiing and snowboarding can look effortless when done well. Starting off is another story. If it is your first ski or snowboard experience you are likely to be using muscles you might not have used in a while, and expending lots of energy in an unfamiliar environment. Having a safe, warm place to take a break, refuel with food and drink, go to the restroom, and take the weight off those tired legs every so often is really important. Luckily most resorts are well covered in this respect.
Instructors who speak your language - Getting a solid foundation in the basics is also key. An experienced, highly qualified instructor who can answer your questions will make your first ski lesson or first snowboard lesson more enjoyable and productive. After all, this first experience on skis or a snowboard will affect your whole attitude to the sport in years to come. Start off in the best way possible and you are setting yourself up with a hobby for life. Our team have many seasons of experience and have traveled around the world helping others master the sports they love.
If you have any questions about which resort to consider, or any other aspect of your trip to this region, feel free to drop us a line. We are always happy to answer questions.